Edit Pass Live Stage 3: Finding Enthusiasm

I want to admit something, in the interest of documenting the whole procedure of editing and rewriting.

I really love the concepts in tKC. I really want to see it finished. There are some characters I have become very attached to, and I really want to have this story to the point where I can just do my normal edit passes, both for the blog, and for myself. Continue reading

Edit Pass Live Stage 3: The Rewrite

Deep breaths.

Deeeeeeeeeep breaths.

OK.

Here’s the part that’s going to take me a while.

As of finishing my timeline, I decided that I was going to leave the character stuff alone. I’ll do some extra work if I run into trouble while writing, rather than trying to solve my problems before I know what they are. So you’ll see me mention if I end up doing any of that later, but for now that’s on hold.

Now we start the rewrite.

I feel sort of bad that I ended up doing Edit Pass Live for this particular story and edit, actually. When I started this, it was because I thought I was going to be discussing an actual edit pass. I thought I was going to be able to talk about how I was looking at the structure and changing things around, and what I was looking for in each pass, and all of that sort of thing. And I chose to do it because I wanted to put something out there that wasn’t talking about first drafts, that was diving specifically more into the editing process.

But here we are, and what the story needs is a rewrite, not an edit, so this is what you get. I may actually extend this “edit pass” to include both this rewrite and a subsequent actual edit pass after this – but only if folks keep showing interest because I know it’s probably not the most exciting thing to hear me talk about myself constantly. I’ll definitely take a hiatus and write some other content while I let the story sit – I’m definitely not letting this be the only content I produce for the next six-odd months.

Anyway – we were talking about rewriting.

I’m not sure I can really front-load this with a lot of information, but I’ll try. I’m a very linear writer, in that I start at the beginning and write through to the end. I find it easier to work out pacing that way – I can feel things progressing as I write, whereas I tend to lose the thread if I try to write scenes out of order.

In order to start, I’ve got all those worldbuilding notes, plus the ones I already had for the last draft, all lined up in Scrivener. I first got Scrivener a little over a year ago, and I am a firm convert, but that’s a discussion for another time. I’ve also transferred my last draft into a big folder, so that I can go back, reference it, steal scenes and lines, and all that.

I’ve got that write-up of all my notes that I made, in categories so I can easily reference them while I’m writing if need be. I have a clean file for making more notes in as I write, things I either need to remember for later, or that I know I need to address in the next edit pass.

I also have a notebook next to my computer so that I can write down my Next Five Scenes lists and I’ve got scratch paper if I need it.

Because this is a rewrite, I’m going to keep a running wordcount total, which I wouldn’t do for an edit pass. I’m going to try and blaze through this as fast as possible, too, because I’m not sure that there will be a lot to talk to you folks about, but we’ll see how we go.

So that’s that – see you all on Twitter, or in the next blog post!

Edit Pass Live Stage 2: Structure Problems

So, when I last posted about things, I mentioned that I’d been having some dilemmas because of the structure of the story. I’d like to talk a bit about what I meant by that, and while I think I’ve made a decision, I don’t know if I will change my mind later, or whether I’ll realise that the story really needs to go a different way, but there we are.

When I originally conceived tKC, it was as a duology – that, I figured, was about as much time as I had for plot. I might not be capable of writing anything that’s less than 100,000 words, but I also know I run out of plot well before trilogy length, and I have a very strange relationship with changing the lengths of stories in editing passes. The lengths can quite often change, in either direction, but that seems to have little to no bearing on my actual wordcount goals for the piece.

But one of the things that I’ve realised I do when I write is that I tend to write in a sort of … two-act structure. That’s a very loose term for it and I’m not sure it warrants any title that formal. And of course, now I say this nobody’s ever going to read one of my stories without looking for this so … oops, I guess? Sorry about that? What I mean is that I tend to write stories with a breaking point, and then a climax. That is, a mini-climax in the middle where everything changes for the characters and the tension spikes sharply, then I work towards the climax at the end.

Sounds fairly simple, right?

Problem.

The way I conceived of tKC initially, as I was re-timelining, did not have a nice three breaking points before the climax – so I could put breaking point, end of Book 1, breaking point, and of Book 2. The story naturally fell into two breaking points and a climax.

This, for obvious reasons, doesn’t lend itself well to a duology. If I wrote to the first breaking point and then put the second two in Book 2, it would have felt back-loaded and uneven. If I’d put the first two breaking points in Book 1 and saved Book 2 for the big climax, I would have had severe Mushy Middle problems for most of Book 2.

Part of what makes this particularly complex is that I have three different character threads (and possibly four depending on how I decide a few things), and that means that while they don’t necessarily need climaxes at the same time, the stories at least need to have some form of parallel to make them feel cohesive, so I need to arrange their tension spikes around each other, and make sure that I don’t accidentally fatigue the reader.

So, I had a few options. First, I could try and split it into a trilogy instead. One book per breaking point, and find some minor breaking points in the middle to create my nice two-act … you know what? My blog, my rules, I’m calling it ‘turning-point structure’. It’s based around building up to a turning point that then leads to the climax. So – I do have other stuff happening between – I could line up a few of those revelations to form the turning points and then use my break points that I’d already identified as the climaxes of three books. My problem here is that I just don’t think there’s enough story for that. I think if I did that, the story would get extremely bogged down.

Second, I could try and manufacture a third turning point to make it break nicely. It could be done – there were a couple of ideas I played with. But the trick there is the multiple plot threads. I decided that was a last resort because it would create a sort of butterfly effect – I couldn’t just change one character’s plotline without moulding all the others around it, and it was just going to be  a headache. Obviously I’d do it if that was what needed to happen, but I wasn’t going directly for that option.

Third, I could elevate another conflict to the status of ‘turning point’ and use that instead. This would require a little wrangling but not as much as option 2, and wouldn’t involve coming up with too much new plot like option 1.

I think I ended up going with a mixed approach. I realised I did have a third turning point, but it occurs extremely early in Book 1, so I’d overlooked it. I think I will end up extending that a bit further into the book, and to compensate for the big stretch of just build-up in between, I do have a couple of minor tension spikes, not a full turning point but big character moments. I’ll see how it works out when I start writing.

Sorry if this is extremely confusing – I’m trying to keep things spoiler-free, so I’m not going into specifics. I hope I’ve explained things so it’s at least understandable.

Edit Pass Live Stage 2: The Timeline

Just to keep folks updated, I know I haven’t been on Twitter for a while (or really anything — I’ve been working a fair bit, and I’ve been travelling twice in the last couple months, for a friend’s birthday and then for a cousin’s art exhibition. Well worth attending but my time hasn’t been my own for a little while, and for that I apologise).

I have, however, finished what I wanted to do with the character work. I actually didn’t do all the little drabbles I said I’d do. I’ve been massaging them while I was working on my notes and worldbuilding, and when I went to write out the drabbles, I didn’t feel like they were adding anything.
Plus, the first one I tried, I managed to pick the two least communicative characters and had them speak in implications at each other, so I ended up learning more about the world history and lore than I did about the characters themselves and their relationship, but that was something I should probably have seen coming in advance.

However! I have decided to put those aside for a while. I may come back to them before I start to actually write the story if I feel I need to warm up or smooth out some edges, but I think in order to do that I’d have to change the drabble topics, because the current ones aren’t really going to work for me. I’d prefer to move on to other things rather than continuing to beat my head against that particular wall. I still feel like I need to work on a couple of those characters, but I want to rethink how to do that.

As for what I’ve been moving on to, I’m in the middle of redoing the timeline right now. Currently I’m deciding whether I want to stop here or keep going.

Let me explain. At the moment, I have re-timelined about to where Book One ended (I’m still keeping the Big Change Moment that I wanted to end that book on). I already know what needs to happen in the next part — I know my midpoint and my endpoint (I actually want to talk a bit about some structure problems I’ve been working on, but I’ll write that up in a separate post).

But when I was timelining the first section, I noticed that I’m going to have to be a bit squishy in my planning — there are a lot of things that I need to set up and I don’t feel comfortable timelining those so much. I feel like I have the overall shape, but I have changed a lot of the character motivations and I feel like I want to let that play out for the first part of the rewrite before I make a decision on how that information needs to go. I’ve got a few options and I need to get used to the characters again before I could say which one is the most natural.

For this same reason, I don’t want to start on the second book’s timeline, because I actually don’t know what I’m going to have set up already, and where the characters need to go to get to that end that I need.

Plus, I can already see that there’s a little section at about the 3/4 mark where I may need to adjust my pacing — I may need to add some elements in order to keep things running parallel the way they should, given I’m juggling three plot points and I can’t just have one group of characters doing nothing for a couple weeks when they’re supposed to be feeling a sense of urgency. But what I end up having them work on depends a little bit on how a couple of earlier scenes play out, so I won’t know what they have been doing or working on till after I’ve gotten my feet wet and actually got some scenes on the page.

I feel like I could put down a timeline for the second part, but I think what I’m going to do instead is put down a list of elements and character moments, and I’ll decide partway into the draft what order I actually want to put them in.

When we hear writers talking about plotting and pantsing, this, I think, is my current happy medium (my process may change later, but for now, I always find myself coming back to this method). I used to think I was a pantser, but the longer I’ve been writing, the more detailed my outlines have become. However, I never like to put in all the character notes; I prefer to add those as I write, and plan them much closer to time — I’ll write them out as a guide for my ‘next five scenes’ lists, which I make as I go rather than at the beginning. I also tend to get sketchier on the timelines towards the end of the story anyway, to leave myself room to adjust timing, pacing and positioning as I go.

But anyway, that’s where I’m up to with the timelining. I’ll be back soon to talk about the structure issues, but for now I’ll get back to work.

Edit Pass Live Stage 2: Collating Notes

So, I also want to talk a little bit about how I collated my notes, because that was a process that was a bit new to me. I don’t know if it’ll be helpful to other people, but it’s useful for me to document my learning process, so I’m just going to talk it through here anyway. Continue reading

Edit Pass Live Stage 2: Task List Update

Update for the Edit Pass Live: Just got past what I feel is enough of a milestone to post the next task list.
Most of what I’ve done is the worldbuilding, but I’ve also fallen down a couple of worldbuilding rabbit holes where I added info that is most likely completely irrelevant to any part of the story or the characters in it. Still, hopefully it helps me round things out in my head. And it was fun — let’s never forget that part.

So here is the new task list, updated with what still needs to be done:

 

Worldbuilding Questions

Completed! See the original list here. I haven’t included it in this post mostly for clarity, but if you’re keeping score at home, that’s where to find it.

In addition to those, I also did a full history of H. Country in the past couple of hundred years, and a comprehensive biology of the non-human species, plus origin story of their people (both true and rumoured). I also ended up rewriting a few of the characters not on the list below.

Some changes are definitely going to require me to change some entire plot points, but then I always knew that was going to be the case.

 

The remainder of these still need doing, however.

Characters who Need Fixing

  • Yerothen
  • Althus
  • Orothias
  • Ette
  • Ithild

 

Timeline

  • Collate all my notes; split into categories so I can easily reference them
  • Create new outline

 

Side note: I really should have collated my notes a lot earlier; it’s going to be much harder now that I’ll definitely forgotten what the heck I was talking about. But hey, since when have I ever made good choices that will make things easier for myself?

Edit Pass Live Stage 2: Task List

Worldbuilding Questions

  • Write more complete history and geography of E. Country
    • Last few rulers
    • Complete list of political factions
    • Changes since Large Historical Event A (especially population distribution)
    • Overarching opinions of H. Country
    • Overarching opinions of Political Event B
    • Restrictions caused by Political Event B
    • Cultural and legal changes caused by Political Event B
    • Decide exact place of H.H in E. Country politics.
  • Rework magic system
    • Exact workings of E. Country magic system
    • Decide how E. Country’s system can or cannot interact with H. Country’s.
    • Why must H. Country use their rune system, why not current language, since their magic is based on linguistics, not inherent to the language itself?
  • Country Details (already started)
    • Decide on current fashion, how style is different to E. Country, and effects of the magic system on textiles
    • Better descriptions of how common households are laid out, what magics and technologies the average person has, etc.
    • Common foods – what is local, what is imported
    • Common family and household structures.

 

Characters who Need Fixing

  • Yerothen
  • Althus
  • Orothias
  • Ette
  • Ithild

 

Timeline

  • Collate all my notes; split into categories so I can easily reference them
  • Create new outline

Edit Pass Live Stage 2: Background Work

So, as anyone who’s following the Twitter will know, I finished the readthrough pass. It took a little longer than I’d like, but that’s how these things shake out.

I’m also sort of glad that I chose this particular book to do the live edit pass on, because hoo boy we’re going to have material for months. Continue reading

Edit Pass Live 1: The Readthrough

Here begins the edit pass of an upcoming book that I’m going to refer to as tKC.

Some stats to begin with – since I won’t be talking about a previous phase of editing here, I’m just going to fill in some details of the actual book so that people have an idea of what I’m talking about. Continue reading

Edit Pass Live

Hey everyone. I’ve been away for a while because of Worldcon, but I’ve finally found some time to get things written.

That Little Nightmares series is about to start, I promise. But I’m also doing something else at the moment that I want to run concurrently, because it’s going to be a little patchier than the rest of the cohesive series-esque-type-things that I do. Continue reading